The Microphone Explained

Author: Sophie Milch

Microphones are an example of transducers. Transducers are in fact devices which transform information from one form to the other. The most common microphones which are used for musical purposes are ribbon, condenser and dynamic microphones. All microphones have the competence to convert sound energy into electrical energy. They employ different ways and means to do so by utilizing electromagnetism, electrostatics, piezo-electric effects etc. The main purpose of microphones is generating a current or voltage which is comparative to the sound signal. In microphones sound information subsist as patterns of pressure; the microphone transform this information into patterns of electric current. Most of the microphones used in music recording and live performances could be either capacitor or dynamic models. A moving diaphragm is used to by these two devices to capture the sound.


There are various arrays of microphones available, which serves different purposes, dynamic microphones are likely the most common model. In live sound mode almost all the microphones are dynamic. For recording different instruments in a studio like drums, basses, electrical guitars etc. dynamic microphones are used. These microphones are relatively inexpensive and can even operate without the assistance of regular power supply and batteries. Dynamic microphones operate with the help of a lightweight diaphragm which is affixed to a small coil of wire and is perched in the field of a permanent magnet. As soon as a sound comes the whole diaphragm vibrates, thus the whole process works as a tiny electricity generator. Thus, when working with sound sources that do not need any high frequencies, dynamic microphones are used.

Capacitor microphones on the other hand have been in use for several decades and are more expensive and sensitive than their counterparts’ the dynamic microphone. These microphones confine high-frequency details much more precisely. These microphones are really efficient, but they generate such a petite electrical signal that necessitates an unusual type of built-in preamplifier to create the signal up to serviceable levels. There are also basic pickup patterns such as directional, omni-directional, shotgun, cardioids, subcardioids etc …Through these microphones sound is picked up from all directions. That is the reason why these microphones are technically correct. One disadvantage of “catch all” microphones is that apart from the main emanating sound, all other sounds within a room will be”picked-up” and recorded. That’s why cardioids or shotgun microphones are best for isolation recording sounds within a busy environment.

Buying Tips: Microphones
• There is no denying the fact that different microphones act differently, in different environmental settings, where there are diverse instruments being recorded. Opt with the microphone which best suits your need.
• For exceptional results procure a capacitor microphone or back-electrets models for severe vocal work.
• Decide, whether you want a condenser microphone, or crave a dynamic microphone? Make your mind whether a USB microphone will suit your needs? This would be a perfect solution if you need to plug your microphone directly into a PC or other added digital recording solution.
• Lock down on your budget; are you looking for a cheaper microphone or an expensive one? There is a wide variety of microphones available from multiple brands and models.

About the Author

Sophie Milch currently manages purchasing and inventory control for Sophie keeps herself busy by making sure our inventory is filled with quality products, the latest and the greatest. Sophie holds a B.Sc. in Mathematics from the University of Waterloo and is frequent contributor to several technology blogs and magazines. When she’s not working; in typical nerd fashion you can catch Sophie twittering friends, beating down Murlocs in World of Warcraft andwatching re-runs of the X-files.

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The Microphone explained. Recording sharp sounds